Zac Efron is reminiscing about his former 17 Again co-star, Matthew Perry.
During the red carpet appearance for the world premiere of his latest movie “The Iron Claw” in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday night, the 36-year-old actor shared exclusively with PEOPLE that he would consider portraying Perry in a future biopic. This comes after Perry’s passing last month at the age of 54, as Perry had previously indicated his desire for Efron to take on the role.
“I’m honored to hear he was thinking of me to play him,” Efron says. “We’ll see. I’d be honored to do it.”
Zac Efron says he would be hugely honored to play Matthew Perry in a biopic. ❤️🙏 pic.twitter.com/bLopvlF8Io
— ExtraTV (@extratv) November 9, 2023
Noting that he is “devastated” by Perry’s loss, Efron also reminisces about the cherished memories he holds from filming the 2009 comedy 17 Again with the Friends star.
“He was a mentor to me, and we made a really cool film together,” he reflects. “I looked up to him, I learned comedic timing from that guy. I mean, when we were filming 17 Again, it was so surreal for me to look across and have him be there, because I’ve learned so much from him, from his whole life.”
Within 17 Again, Efron portrayed a youthful iteration of Perry’s character, Mike O’Donnell. The movie revolves around 37-year-old Mike, grappling with regrets about his life, until an opportunity for a second chance arises when he inadvertently travels through a time vortex and reverts to his teenage self.
Entertainment reporter Athenna Crosby, who was pictured having a meal with Perry at the Hotel Bel-Air just a day before his passing, had shared with PEOPLE earlier that the star “wanted to make a movie about his life and have a biopic made” — and that he “wanted Zac Efron, who’s played him already, to play him again because he said he did such a good job.”
In addition to Zac Efron and Matthew Perry, the ensemble of 17 Again featured Leslie Mann, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jim Gaffigan, and Thomas Lennon.
Lennon, who collaborated with Perry on The Odd Couple TV series that commenced in 2015, penned a tribute to Perry that was featured in Variety.
“Matty had huge feelings and was not afraid to make you a part of those feelings. A comedy sword-swallower using real swords. The swords hurt,” Lennon, aged 53, shared, before continuing, “Matty was always trying to get better. Matty was ready to talk. Matty didn’t want to be alone. Matty wanted to make you laugh even if swallowing the swords hurt.”
Primarily recognized for his portrayal of Chandler Bing across 10 seasons of the TV series Friends, Perry was also notable for his roles in films such as The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Fools Rush In (1997), and Three to Tango (1999).
Perry’s family conveyed to PEOPLE in a statement that they are “heartbroken” by his “tragic” death.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother. Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend,” they expressed. “You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love.”
Efron appears in The Iron Claw alongside Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, and Stanley Simons, portraying the actual sibling professional wrestlers constituting the Von Erich family.
During the red carpet event on Wednesday night, Efron also converses with PEOPLE about his perspective on fame, a topic explored in the A24 film.
“I think times are changing,” Efron acknowledges. “One thing I will say is everyone’s got a phone nowadays, so that’s an interesting part of being famous. And I think that’s what this movie’s about. The way that it was for [my character] Kevin [Von Erich], his family, it speaks to a lot of the downside, or maybe the pitfalls, of fame.”
“You have to be a warrior to get through this s—, man,” he adds. “And that’s what this story is about. I respect the heck out of guys that fall down and are able to pick themselves back up and persevere.”
The former cast member of High School Musical remarks, “I think everyone can relate to it on one level or another.”
The film The Iron Claw will be available in theaters starting on December 22nd.